Competitive Mamas

“So… is she crawling yet?”

“So… is she sleeping through the night yet?”

“So… is she signing yet?”

“So… is she talking yet?”

When other mamas ask me these kinds of questions, my standard response has now become: “Willow will do it when she is ready, just like all babies.” I have complete faith that our daughter will do anything and everything in her own good time, just as she waited for the perfect time to enter our lives.  She will eventually do what all babies do, regardless of how early little Owen said “mama” or how soon little Angelique made the sign for “potty”.

As a child I had some delays in meeting infant and toddler developmental milestones, but I still ended up being placed in gifted education programs and growing up to become a productive member of society (albeit one who requires a GPS in order to get to the grocery store).

The “mama questions” are, more often than not, followed by either advice about how to encourage or force my daughter to master the desired skill, or by a list of the exact timeline of “accomplishments” of the offspring of the person asking the question.  I’m starting to realize that questions such as these are rarely a genuine expression of interest about Willow.  Instead, they are a socially accepted tool to allow one to offer unsolicited advice or to brag.  A way for another mama to justify the parenting choices she made, or to attempt to plump up her sagging self-esteem by presenting her child’s development as a reflection of herself.

Comparing our kids in this way is neither helpful, healthy, nor supportive.  The Nipissing and other developmental screening tools and regular check-ups by trained physicians are helpful in identifying children who may need appropriate assessments and follow-up from specialists, and as a teacher I am a big fan of early identification and intervention from the appropriate professionals.  I am not a fan of depending on a child’s rate of development for a parent’s own sense of self-worth, especially when it becomes a game of competing with other parents in a game of “whose child is the most advanced”.

Is this why I am not desperately trying to befriend other mamas (in the way that I was assured I would need to for the preservation of my “sanity”) and prefer to hang out with my original set of friends, most of whom either have older children or none at all?  It seems that mamas in many of my different circles (with a high degree of variance in socioeconomic, cultural and religious backgrounds) all end up having the same kinds of conversations.

Maybe it is okay to just honour myself by giving myself permission to be a wee bit of an introvert.

Again, it is hitting home that I will never truly be part of the Mommy Club. And I’m discovering that I’m okay with that.

willow fall